Trump rally sparks clashes in San Diego

Anti-Donald Trump protesters clashing with supporters outside the Republican presidential candidate's rally in San Diego on May 27.
Anti-Donald Trump protesters clashing with supporters outside the Republican presidential candidate's rally in San Diego on May 27. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump brought his message of walls and deportations to the doorstep of America's busiest border crossing on Friday as he greeted supporters in San Diego, amid one of the largest counter-protests organised against him.

The scene inside the San Diego Convention Centre during Mr Trump's speech was relatively placid, while outside demonstrators opposed to his controversy-ridden White House bid marched and chanted, carrying signs criticising his rhetoric against illegal immigration.

Waving American and Mexican flags, more than 1,000 people turned out for anti-trump rallies in San Diego, a city on the United States-Mexico border whose San Ysidro port of entry sees nearly 300,000 people a day cross legally between the countries.

Mr Trump has weathered months of blowback from all ends of the political spectrum for his immigration policy, which calls for the building of a wall along the US-Mexico border and deporting the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants who reside in the US.

Shortly before taking the stage in San Diego, Mr Trump issued a statement ruling out a one-on-one debate with second-place Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders, who was also in California, killing off a potentially high-ratings television spectacle.

The suggested debate, an idea first raised during a talk show appearance by Mr Trump, would have sidelined likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton but given Mr Sanders a huge platform ahead of California Democratic primary.

A day after saying he would welcome a Sanders debate, Mr Trump called the idea "inappropriate," declaring that he should only face the Democrats' final choice.

"I will wait to debate the first- place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton," Mr Trump said in a statement.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 29, 2016, with the headline 'Trump rally sparks clashes in San Diego'. Print Edition | Subscribe